ELECTION 2024/Former Kaohsiung mayor tops KMT legislator-at-large list
Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) Former Kaohsiung mayor and opposition Kuomintang's (KMT's) 2020 presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) topped the party's list of 34 legislator-at-large nominations for the January 2024 elections, while the other nominees include a blockchains expert, a retired admiral and several people in the medical field, according to the list released on Sunday by the party.
The 66-year-old Han was a short-lived Kaohsiung mayor starting from December 2018, for a year and a half.
He was the KMT's candidate for the 2020 presidential election, but lost to Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who was seeking her second term.
Later that year, he was unseated as mayor in a recall election by voters unhappy with his outspoken allegations of DPP corruption during the presidential race and his running for president so soon after winning the mayorship, making him the first municipality leader in Taiwan's history to be recalled.
Still, Han is considered the KMT member with the most charisma and has enjoyed high popularity among pan-blue supporters.
In a statement, Han said he was willing to take up the task given by the KMT Central Standing Committee and his main goal as a future lawmaker is to promote KMT cooperation with the smaller opposition party Taiwan People's Party (TPP), and to push for a change of the current DPP government and promote peace and prosperity for Taiwan.
Being at the top of the KMT's legislator-at-large list means Han could become legislative speaker should the KMT and TPP coalition formed this week win a majority of the seats in the Legislative Yuan during the Jan. 13 legislative race, which will be held on the same day as the presidential election.
It has been a long-standing practice of the KMT to put its favorite candidate for speaker into its No. 1 legislator-at-large spot.
Second on the KMT list was former lawmaker Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), who represented the party for the 2022 Kaohsiung mayoral election but lost to sitting Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).
She is an expert in education and had served as a dean of student affairs at the New Taipei-based Tamkang University.
The KMT's No. 3 pick was Ko Ju-chun (葛如鈞), an expert on blockchains and Non-Fungible Token (NFT) in the Chinese speaking world who is also known as a podcast host for this area. He is now an assistant professor at National Taiwan University.
The list also included five experts in medical fields as well as retired Republic of China Navy admiral Chen Yeong-kang (陳永康).
According to KMT Chair Eric Chu (朱立倫), the nominees on the proposed list have an average age of 47, making it the youngest legislator-at-large list the party has ever proposed.
"The KMT is willing to give more opportunities to the younger generation, they [the list of lawmaker hopefuls] are the hope for the KMT's future," Chu said.
Chu said the list is led by Han and several KMT candidates that lost in the 2022 mayoral and magistrate races, including Ko, Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) who lost to the DPP's sitting Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲); ex-lawmaker Su Ching-chuan (蘇清泉), who lost to the DPP's Chou Chun-mi (周春米) in Pingtung County; and Wang Yu-min (王育敏), who lost to the DPP's Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁) in Chiayi County.
They will become members of a reserve team that will fight for the party in future elections, Chu said.
The KMT chair said he also nominated retired former admiral Chen who was familiar with indigenous warship construction projects and have several times represented the KMT in the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference.
The nomination aims to take advantage of Chen's experience in national defense due to the rising cross-Strait tensions, Chu said.
Also on the list was Li Xia (李霞), a China-born individual who is married to a Taiwanese citizen. She is now running a multicultural development association that promotes the rights of the Taiwan's new residents.
In Taiwan, "new resident" refers to individuals who immigrated to Taiwan.
Li was No. 17 on the list so it would be extremely unlikely for her to become a lawmaker.
In Taiwan's lawmaking body, the Legislative Yuan, 73 of the 113 seats are filled with candidates directly elected by voters in the nation's constituencies, six are reserved for Indigenous candidates elected by Indigenous voters, and 34 are at-large seats allocated based on the total number of votes obtained by each political party in the legislative election.
According to political commentators, the first 12 nominees on the KMT list will be highly likely to secure a seat in the Jan. 13, 2024 elections.
The DPP currently holds 63 seats in the 113-seat Legislature, while the KMT has 38, with 13 at-large seats.
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